Why I Quit Playing Video Games to Become a Poker Pro

Quit playing video games

Let me ask you a question. Do you play video games too much?

Does it cut into other (probably more valuable things) like creating that new online business which will change your financial future, finally getting in shape and feeling more confident, meeting the right girl, learning a new language or traveling more?

If so, you are definitely not alone. Video games are more popular than ever these days and perhaps un-coincidentally rates of major depression in Western countries are hitting all-time highs as well.

Now I am not a psychologist and I have no real evidence that there is any direct correlation between the two. However, it's not really a huge stretch to think that some sort of link may exist.

Because while video games provide excellent "in the moment" entertainment value and an instant dopamine rush from hitting that next level up or bonus, it is pretty debatable how much real long term lasting value and true happiness they bring us.

Note: Read until the end to find out how you can create a large business that actually will bring tons of positive value to your life by simply playing video games.


My Life Long Battle With Video Game Addiction


Now before you accuse me of being some kind of video game hater please understand that the exact opposite is actually true. I love video games. So much so that it has been seriously detrimental to my life at times.

Many people do not know that I have battled with a fairly intense video game addiction since I was a young kid. It all started with Super Mario Brothers (the first one). Yes I am that old!

The original Nintendo Entertainment System was first released in 1983 when I was 4 years old. I didn't actually get my hands on one for several years later but it was an instant love affair.

Then it proceeded to The Legend of Zelda, Street Fighter, Mortal Kombat, Mario Cart, Final Fantasy III, VI and VII, Starcraft Brood War, Resident Evil (most of them), Call of Duty (all of them), Civilization 5 & 6, Age of Empires (most of them), Grand Theft Auto (all of them) and right up until present with The Witcher III and God of War.

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And believe me, these are just a few of the highlights!

In short, I love video games. I actually spent 10 years of my life playing Starcraft Brood War competitively and I planned to move to Seoul, Korea to play professionally.

But there is one huge, huge problem with video games for 99% of people that still exists today. There is virtually no money or future in them.


But What About Esports?


Now before somebody says "Hey but what about esports!" let me talk about that first. "Esports" is professional gaming by the way for those who do not know.

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Esports continues to grow year over year and the top players can now make millions of dollars in some cases. This is an absolutely beautiful thing by the way!

I still follow the pro scene for several games even though my competitive career is long over. Esports is a very, very young man's game. You are quite literally washed up by age 25.

But the problem is that for the vast overwhelming majority of people who play video games (like 99% of them), they will never come anywhere close to competing at live events for significant sums of money, $10k, $100k or more.

In fact you could devote your entire life to CS:GO or whatever your game of choice is and you would probably have better luck winning the lottery than making 6 or 7 figures playing video games professionally.

The other problem as mentioned is that your shelf life as a pro-gamer is incredibly short. You realistically only have about 10 years max earning potential assuming you go pro at 15 years old!

Look, I really hope esports continues to grow and it becomes a more viable career path in years to come. In fact I know it will.

But as of right now, in 2019, there is virtually no reasonable chance of a future in pro-gaming for the vast overwhelming majority of people who play video games.


But I Just Play for Fun!


Now before you start writing me angry comments below let me address another point that you are probably thinking. Playing video games isn't all about making money and many people just play for fun!

And of course you would be absolutely right.

So for all those people out there reading this who actually do just mess around with League of Legends for a few hours a week as idle entertainment, more power to them.

But let's get real here for a moment shall we? How many people do you know, who take video games seriously, who actually only play 1 or 2 hours a week?

And let's also admit the undeniable fact that most video games these days are not even meant to be played as idle entertainment for a few hours a week.

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Quite the contrary in fact. They are purposely made to be insanely addictive with a never-ending loop of rewards, level ups, bonuses and perks.

And when you add in the ability to play online against other people there is no way that anyone who takes these games seriously is only going to play just a few hours a week.

In fact anybody who has played any kind of competitive game online like Call of Duty knows that all the noobs who only play a few hours a week get absolutely slaughtered by the guys playing 8 hours a day.

How is that fun for the the "idle entertainment" video gamers? To know that they are likely going to get killed over and over again every time they log on.

It obviously isn't fun for them.

So most people, myself included, often end up spending very large amounts of time playing video games. 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10 hours a day. Sound familiar?

Now we are getting into that range of time where you definitely could be doing so many other more productive things in your life. It isn't just idle entertainment anymore.


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Limit Your Time Spent on Video Games: Single Player Only


What about limiting your time spent playing video games though? I think there are some legit strategies for this.

Since I still play video games and probably always will (I have a PlayStation 4 Pro) what I actually do these days is just ban myself from playing online.

I do not have a PlayStation Plus subscription. I only play single player games.

So for instance, Red Dead Redemption II was just released recently to perfect 10 reviews. And it is also made by Rockstar Games. So I snap bought it of course.

quit playing video games red dead redemption 2

The single player campaign is supposed to take around 60 hours. I will probably finish the game over the course of a month or two. And then I will be done with it.

Most people who buy a game like Red Dead Redemption II and choose to play online though will end up pumping far, far more than 60 hours into the game.

They will get addicted to the online community and competitive element along with chasing after the never ending series of level ups, rewards and bonuses. Before they even know it they have spent 500 or 1,000 hours playing a game like this.

My advice is to NEVER play online if you truly want to try and moderate your time spent playing video games.

It might sound boring at first but once you get used to it, it will feel completely normal. For example, Grand Theft Auto V is one of the greatest video games of all time in my opinion.

I have never played it online. I have absolutely no wish to waste hundreds or thousands of hours of my time online battling a bunch of hacking nerds to get the coolest car in my garage.

I played this absolutely amazing game to 100% completion in single player mode ONE TIME and that was all I needed.


So What Should You Do Instead of Playing Video Games?


What can you do with all of this newfound time not spent playing video games then? Well let me tell you what I did. And you can probably guess already since this is a poker blog.

During my 10 year love affair and addiction with Starcraft Brood War I started noticing that several of the biggest name players (who were also my idols), were starting to play more and more of this card game called Texas Hold'em Poker.

I am talking about people like Bertrand "ElkY" Grospellier and Lex "RaSZi" Veldhuis for instance. Both are former Starcraft pros who are now very famous poker pros.

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Image credit: www.pokernews.com

In fact Lex (pictured above) is also now arguably the most popular poker Twitch streamer on the planet with a massive fanbase. Check out his Twitch channel here.

Anyways, at the time I just could not understand why these famous video game players would suddenly start playing this poker game. Isn't is just all gambling anyways? What's the point?

I soon found out why.

First off, I learned that poker was indeed a game of skill that could be beat if I got good enough at it just like with Starcraft.

But there was one big, big difference. I learned that it was far, far easier to make real money playing poker then it ever would be in Starcraft.

In fact as much as 30% of people will win at poker over the long run. On the other hand I would be shocked if even 1% of people who play video games will ever make a profit playing them.

So basically I had to make a decision in my life.

Was I going to keep playing these video games for countless hours every day when the chances were incredibly low that it would ever amount to anything for me?




Or devote my time to poker instead where even a novice player can make $500 or $1000 a month at the micro stakes. And far, far more than this at higher stakes.

It was basically a no-brainer decision for me and one of the best decisions that I ever made. I started spending all of that time I previously devoted to Starcraft and put it into learning poker instead.

That was over 10 years ago by the way. And it took me only about 1 year before deciding to quit my "real job" to play poker full time and travel the world.


Quitting Video Games Means Leveling Up Your Life


Now please don't get me wrong.

I am not trying to convince you to ditch the video games and take up poker. This is just my personal story. And in fact right now in 2019 poker is not nearly so easy anymore either.

You have to be willing to work hard and put in a lot of long hours both on and off the poker tables in order to make significant money or even think about "going pro."

What this is really about is doing something that actually levels up your real life and creates true long term enjoyment, happiness and satisfaction.

And yes let's face it, ultimately this often boils down to money.

Now some people these days (usually broke people) like to put down others who pursue large scale financial success as "greedy" or "materialistic."

Which is utterly absurd when you really think about it because money is simply a means to an end. Having money allows you to not only provide for yourself and not be a burden on society, but it also allows you to help other people as well.


Here are a few things that money can buy:
  • The best medical care possible if you or someone in your family ever needs it
  • Sending your kids to the very best private schools
  • Paying off your parents mortgage for them: Thanks mom! Thanks dad!
  • Donating to help build schools or wells in poor African villages

And so much more, I think you get the point.

Being focused on creating financial abundance is actually one of  the most moral things you can do in life because it allows you to provide for yourself and for so many other people as well.

Money also allows you to travel the world (while you are young) and experience a completely different perspective on life that most people will simply never understand.

Money also "buys" you the time in life to actually do what you want to do, when you want to do it.

To spend real time with your family for example. To actually go to your kids soccer games instead of spending 50 or 60 hours a week working yourself into an early grave at the office.

And lastly, money also allows you to finally pay off all your debts, buy that new home, condo or car in cash and never skip your Starbucks Latte again.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these things. And unfortunately playing video games (as of right now in 2019) is very, very unlikely to ever afford you any of them.


How to Make Money Online With Video Games


So poker is one way to make money online but it certainly isn't the only way or even the easiest way these days. You are actually looking at another way to make money online right now.

This website of mine www.blackrain79.com is a full time business. "BlackRain79" is my online poker screen name by the way.

Now some people still seem to think that I spend hours and hours writing these articles and answering hundreds of comments and emails every single week as some sort of a charity.

Please don't get me wrong, I do absolutely love writing about poker, helping people improve their game and hearing their success stories, but I also make money doing this.

This website now attracts close to 1,000 visitors every single day and I sell multiple products like ebooks and courses. I also sprinkle affiliate links into articles whenever it is applicable.

Furthermore, I have a growing YouTube channel which helps increase the exposure of this website even more and it also generates a small but consistent income in it's own right.

I think you get the point.

What I have done is create a large online business by simply helping people with something that I already have a deep passion for (poker).


My "office" from my condo in Bangkok:



Now since you are reading this article you probably already have a deep passion for some video game such as Overwatch, Dota 2, League of Legends or Fortnite. Am I right?

So there is the topic for your new online business!

And don't worry you don't need to write long blog articles every week. In fact most people prefer video these days anyways. Think YouTube or Twitch.

So all you have to do is start making regular content about the video game that you already love and enjoy playing.

And it's easy because it never feels like "work" when you are talking about something that you are already passionate about.


Here is Your Step by Step Game Plan to Making Money With Video Games (or Poker)


Pick a brand name. Ideally it should be short, catchy and memorable.

Next go to Fiverr.com and pay somebody $5 to make some cheap cartoony looking logo for your brand name.

After that start consistently publishing videos, live streams, podcasts or blog posts (whatever works best for you) and always do it under this brand name.

Consistency really is the key here. People need to know that you aren't some fly by night snowflake.

For example, I publish at least one blog article and at least one YouTube video every single week, no matter what. And I have been doing this for years.

My audience expects my content and they know that I will always deliver it without question. This is the reason why I have a large audience now.

You can do all this on YouTube, Twitch, iTunes or a Wordpress website by the way depending on which form of content you want to put out.

Register the ".com" version of your brand name right now as well even if you do not plan to use the website at all. Trust me, just do it. It costs $10 a year.

Next, create social media profiles on all the major platforms, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so on. Once again they should all be registered under your brand name.

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Start publishing informative, funny or educational content at least on a semi-regular basis. And most importantly, always, always link to your latest YouTube video, live stream, podcast, blog post or whatever as soon as it goes live.

In fact link to it multiple times over the course of weeks and months after it is published. There are automated tools like Buffer you can use to make this easier.

Also, build relationships on social media with other content creators in your same niche/game so they share your content with their audience and you share theirs with your audience.

Do all of this for a minimum of 6 months (although a year is much better) in order to build up a small but loyal audience.

Then offer them some sort of premium content video package like the "Advanced Guide to Crushing Fortnite" (silly name but I think you get the point) where you share your very best Fortnite strategy advice and sell it for some smallish fee like $20 or $50.

Now, if you have been serious about providing real consistent value to your audience through all of your free content during the past 6 months to a year, then believe me, they will be literally lining up to buy this from you.

See how you have just turned your passion for video games (something you were already going to do anyways) into a business that actually works for you and gives back?

None of this takes any serious "computer know-how" by the way.

Creating a YouTube channel or an Instagram account can be done in less than 1 minute. And anything else that you don't know about above can be figured out with a quick Google search or simply outsourced for peanuts on Fiverr or Upwork.com

But hang on, what if there was an even easier way to make money with video games or poker online?


The Product is YOU


There is still another way to make money with video games (or poker) though that doesn't even involve the difficult and time intensive process of creating and marketing some big video course or ebook to sell.

Many progamers and poker pros have successfully turned streaming (Twitch and YouTube) into a full time career these days just by generating ad revenue, selling merchandise, promoting affiliate products or private sponsorship deals.

In other words, they don't even need to create and sell their own product, learn marketing and all that boring crap. This is because they literally are the product.

They generate so many eyeballs via their streaming and videos that they can literally just get paid to simply do what they already love to do anyways, play games.

If you are a poker player, look no further than Lex Veldhuis, already mentioned above in this article. Look at what he has done on Twitch. This is very, very smart.

And by the way, you don't even need to be anywhere near the level of a "progamer" (or a high stakes poker player) in order to become very successful with any of this either.

In gaming the most obvious example is PewDiePie who makes at least 12 million dollars per year making videos on YouTube. He originally got super famous by simply recording himself playing video games and entertaining his audience.

He is just a regular dude from Sweden who likes video games. And as far as I know he has no actual competitive background in gaming at all.

Ninja (Fortnite streamer) is another more recent example of a guy who created a massive audience and business by simply streaming and playing a game he already loves!

In fact here he is playing Fortnite recently with Drake. Yes, that Drake.



The bottom line is this: Make video games work for you, not the other way around. Maybe you don't need to quit them at all.

In fact, maybe you should play them even more often. But please, please start doing it the smart way!

This is 2019. You can literally start building a following, and ultimately a business, from your iPhone right now.


Final Thoughts


So should you quit playing video games once and for all? Well, only you can make that decision. And maybe you don't need to anyways.

For me personally I will be honest, I barely even play them anymore. There are just so many other things I find a lot more rewarding such as poker, world travel and expanding my online businesses.

Update: I actually sold my PlayStation 4 since writing this article lol. I simply have no time for it right now.

But for all of you out there who truly just enjoy playing video games a few hours a week as idle entertainment and it has no adverse affects on your life, believe me I wasn't writing this article for you.

Keep enjoying your video games!

But I think many other people reading this article end up spending way too much time playing video games especially in some of the most important years of their lives (20's and 30's).

I know I certainly did.

And no matter how many level ups and bonuses you achieve, once you turn off that screen and get back to "real life" it can leave you feeling a little bit empty inside and wondering what you actually accomplished.

Now look, if gaming for 2, 4, 6 or 8 hours a day really does in fact bring you a deep sense of satisfaction and happiness in your life, then you don't need to listen to me either.

You also should just go ahead and keep enjoying your video games.

But for the rest of us mere mortals, I think there are some positive steps you can take to at least start making video games work for you.

You can do this by limiting the amount of time you spend playing video games or even better, creating a business and brand around them like many smart gamers are choosing to do these days.

The bottom line is be in control of your relationship with video games. This hobby of yours should always be adding value to your life, not the other way around.

Lastly, if you want to know how I quit my job over 10 years ago to play poker full time and travel the world, make sure to pick up a copy of my free poker cheat sheet.


Let me know in the comments below if you have ever tried to quit playing video games. Do video games affect your life in a positive or a negative way?

quit playing video games


16 comments:

  1. This post speaks the truth. I am currently trying to limit myself to one or two games per year. A better step to take would probably be to unsubscribe from every youtube channel related to video games out there. Not knowing that RDR2 is out and is the game of this generation would be a great first step. Officially Total War Shogun 2 is my most played game with 500+ hours logged according to steam but yeah CiV ... between all the iterations I may have logged double that and more recently the XCOM games.

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    1. Ya I know what that's like. I will never forget the first time I "discovered" CiV 5. That game was pure crack to me! I don't think I even left the house for two weeks and it took me two years to finally uninstall it for the final time lol.

      My hope is that this article will be found by some hardcore gamers like I used to be. And maybe a few of them will either moderate their play a bit, or better yet, do something productive with it. Because it is so easily possible these days.

      For example, YouTube gaming videos as you mentioned get unbelievable amounts of views!

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  2. Best blog post ever!!! I think this post is going to change 2019 for me totally. More poker, less video games. Thank you Nathan for this fantastic site!! Much love

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    1. Thanks Kaos I am glad you enjoyed this article! And I hope it helps you achieve all the success you want in 2019.

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  3. Bit off subject dude.

    Poker veteran of 15yrs, posted on 2+2 when curiouse about certain things, but once in a blue moon, joined reddit poker three months ago, away now, horrible horrible place, absolutley discusting how new players are belittled, stuck up for alot of folks, its the two years in types that think they know it all, realy horrible, your right dude these places are poison, bullying new players! The mainstay of poker!, stuck up for many people, then left, never to return! GL.

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    1. Ya unfortunately those places can be pretty negative environments these days. I had to stop reading several years ago as well. Poker is a tough game and there are a lot of bitter keyboard warriors out there.

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  4. Hi Nathan,
    My 'addiction' is trawling the Internet for knowledge, I spend far too much time online doing so!

    I'm too 'old' to play many of the games these youngsters do these days - hell, I don't even know the names of most of 'em! I gave up after 'Sonic' :-)

    I DO enjoy online sports trading - as I've mentioned to you previously - and recently have been having a bit more success than before.

    I still enjoy playing poker from time to time, but I think I'm too far down the sports trading path and nowhere near as far down the poker path, such that I'm letting the sports trading dominate.

    Interesting to hear you link depression to online gaming. You may have something there. I believe that a lot of depression is being caused by the massive amount of electrical energy that we are bouncing around our homes: Wi-Fi, Cell Phones, T.V. Remotes, etc, etc - all produce some kind of energy 'pulse' and as animals that rely heavily on electrical impulses ourselves in order to function, I feel the link is undeniable. And no, I DON'T sit in a blacked-out room, covered in Tin-Foil with a metal helmet on my head! LOL

    In closing, may I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and both safe AND prosperous New Year.

    I look forward to following your lead in 2019 and to playing a bit more poker - both for fun and profit - as time allows. :-)

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts and I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year as well! Thanks for being a loyal reader of mine :)

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  5. I can relate to that, I've wasted countless hours (in the thousands) playing World of Warcraft throughout my youth. Don't get me wrong, all of my best friends I still share my life with outside of the game (one even lived in the same street and we met online! how crazy is that) and it enriched my life a lot but still I could have had the positive experience while moving along faster and achieving goals, reading up and educating myself etc.

    I still enjoy playing them of course but I got aware of the damaging effect it has on my life progress (I probably could be a piano grand master by now given the amount of hours if I add up the /played times).

    I need those binge sessions though in order to get the full enjoyment. What do I do? I use video games as a treat.
    Got that project done? Read that book you postponed for two weeks sitting on your shelf, slowly collecting dust? Learned that piano piece? Work done - now I designate a day to endulge in my favourite hobby.

    If you abandon your passions you'll only create misery. The amount makes the poison.

    It's about harsh self discipline which many people (as myself) lacked during my youth and still am trying to get better with. Try establishing rituals and habits in your daily life to remind you of your mission in life and to work on the progress consistently.

    To sum up: First do what is meaningful, then do what is relaxing and enjoyable

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    1. I like your approach. That makes perfect sense to me! I had some close friends who went down the WoW hole and I didn't see them for about 5 years lol. Luckily I was smart enough to avoid that game!

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  6. Hi Nat,
    I would not say that you fall out of love with gaming, but when you get older, in general you just can not keep up with the young guns. Wait until you hit 50....... I actually fell out of love with poker for the same reason, I just can’t sit and play for hours on end sometimes into the early mornings anymore. I went from 24 tabling to playing once every 3 months or so.
    You are correct about making cash with Twitch or You Tube, but you have to consider your equipment costs. If you are wanting to do this, you need the best set up. Lex is just a beast on twitch and shows just how you can capatlise if your content is the dogs bolloxs.
    Great insight into how your brain works with your content Nat. I always read your blog. I’ve played for 18 yrs Poker that is not gaming and you can never have to much knowledge about the beautiful game.
    If I may, have you ever had the pleasure of viewing Jonathon Little’s coaching programme and if so, how did you find it? I wanted to know from someone who’s got years of experience what they think of the content.
    All the best for the holidays

    Plaza

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts Plaza, I agree about the gaming and even the mass multi-tabling poker. I definitely had more enthusiasm for both when I was younger.

      With Twitch or YouTube I will disagree a bit about the setup costs. I think that is a big misconception that holds a lot of people back. If you have any kind of modern laptop or smart phone then you have the tools already to record decent quality video and audio.

      When you get to the level of someone like Lex on Twitch or Doug Polk on YouTube, sure go ahead and invest in a DSLR camera, a $200 mic and maybe some lighting. But all beginners should just hit record in my opinion and not worry about that stuff.

      Haven't seen Jonathan's coaching programme so I can't comment. All the best to you over the holidays as well :)

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  7. One thing I would add is monetizing your video game plays is about long run as well as in poker.

    If you go to twitch, click on the Fortnite tab, you see 20 people holding 90% of the viewers, and if you scroll down, you see lots and lots and lots of people with 1-2 viewers. You scroll down and down and down, it's almost an infinite amount of people streaming.

    I like your "Get Real" posts about poker, saying it's all about strategy, long run, that it isn't easy. The same would be with twitch, youtube or whatever.

    Peace out.

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    1. All good points, I agree. You have be really dedicated or you won't succeed.

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